Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday #11

I remember the days when I just had little ones, when every time a mealtime rolled around, I had to drop everything and create a meal. I realized recently that except for dinner, those days for me are G-O-N-E. My four older kids, 8 on up to 16, are all perfectly capable of making their own breakfasts and lunches, and of feeding the two youngest as well, if I ask them to.

Instead of short-order cook, my responsibilities have shifted more toward inventory management. My goal is to always have the following supplies on hand, so my budding chefs always have the ingredients to create their own quick and healthy lunches. Like these:

Corn tortillas (read labels, but the whole wheat ones seem to be much higher in fat)--we always keep a supply of these in the freezer, like bread
Canned fat-free refried beans
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Mild salsa (hot sauce optional)
Spread beans, salsa and cheese between two tortillas and heat 45 seconds in microwave.

Beans and Cheese
Canned pork'n'beans sprinkled with cheddar cheese and heated in the microwave.

Brown Rice and Cheese
Brown rice sprinkled with cheddar cheese and heated in the microwave. Hot sauce optional.
When I make rice, I make tons so we can have this for lunch the next day or two.

(Sometimes, they even have: Brown Rice, Beans and Cheese) (Hot sauce optional)

"Cheater Cheese" Sandwiches
Whole wheat bread slices--toast in toaster
American cheese slice--place between pieces of toast and microwave 15 seconds

Pizza Muffins
Whole wheat English muffins or whole wheat hamburger buns.
Spaghetti sauce
American cheese slice or shredded Mozzarella cheese
--Toast muffins, spread with spaghetti sauce and cover with cheese; microwave till cheese melts.

Egg "McMuffins"
Whole wheat bread or English muffin
1-2 eggs, scrambled or over easy, sprinkled with a dash of seasoning salt.
American cheese slice
--Toast muffin or bread while cooking egg; put egg and cheese between toasted bread and let cheese melt.

Pasta with Spaghetti Sauce
When cooking pasta, cook extra and freeze in quart size bags for lunch-size individual servings. Thaw pasta in microwave, add spaghetti sauce and finish heating. Top with parmesan cheese.

Organic Peanut Butter and 100% Fruit Spread on Whole Wheat--of course

Meat and Cheese Sandwiches on Whole Wheat--of course. (Mustard a must; lettuce and pickles a plus; light mayo optional.)

Tuna Salad on Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Light mayo
Pickle relish
Combine and stuff into whole wheat pita bread pocket.

Yogurt Parfaits
Vanilla yogurt and plain yogurt--mixed half and half and layered with:
Fat free granola
Canned tropical fruit cocktail mix

Not So Healthy But Cheap Frozen Beef'n'Bean Burritos--heat in microwave, unwrap tortilla, add cheddar cheese and re-wrap.

Gourmet Chef Salad
Pre-washed bagged salad mix (not iceberg)
Leftover grilled chicken or steak, (or in a pinch, Buddig-style sliced sandwich meat) cut into bite-size pieces
Blue cheese, goat cheese or feta cheese crumbles
Walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds
Dried cranberries, raisins or mandarin oranges
Balsamic or other favorite viniagrette

(Okay, you may have guessed that THAT is what I keep on hand for my lunches, though I'm also partial to PB&J's, cheese quesadillas, and leftovers.)

What about side dishes, you ask? I try to keep the following on hand:

Baby carrots
Canned pork-n'beans (serve with cheese, of course).
Canned sweet potatoes/yams --One of my kids hates these, but the other 5 and I eat these cold, out of the can. ("You do not like them, so you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say!")
Frozen veggies--we like mixed, broccoli, corn, and broccoli-carrot-cauliflower mix.
Canned beets--heat with butter, honey and a pinch of salt. Half love, half hate. Give 'em a try.
Canned three-bean salad
Canned tomato soup (nobody will eat canned vegetable soup anymore).
Broccoli florets or red pepper strips with ranch dressing (Okay, that one's not always on hand and if it's gonna get eaten, I have to fix it.)
Other fresh fruits as they go on sale or appear on the scratch'n'dent shelf at my local grocery
Frozen fruits--but we usually put these in smoothies

There ya go--a nice list of ingredients for quick, easy lunches that kids can make. Works for me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, see Rocks in My Dryer.


Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Those are all wonderful ideas. Mine can almost make a PB&J on her own... it won't be long. I don't know why I never thought of cheese on beans... that's smart! Have you ever tried canned turkey chili to make homemade taco salad? I think Hormel makes it - it's 99% fat free (though the sodium level may be high). Bagged lettuce, grated cheddar, corn chips, canned chili and some good old ranch dressing. My step kids gobble it up!

Andrew & Alaina said...

Great list! I'm going to post some of these in my cabinet for lunch inspiration! My kids are to young to make it themselves but I'm always looking for nutritious ideas. Thanks!

G's Cottage said...

Pork'n beans with cheese served over split and toasted English muffins is very tasty. Use a fork.

Kara said...

Love your list. Many I've tried, but you gave me some new ones I'll definitly be using!

Islandsparrow said...

We love beans and cheese too.

(add a dash of mustard, molasses, ketchup, brown sugar - some bacon and pineapple and everyone will think they are homemade.)

Totallyscrappy said...

I loved the list right down to the cold canned yams/sweet potatoes. Hate 'em in a can, Sam I am. :)

Jenny in Ca said...

I'm moving into that phase of life as well- though I feel more like cruise director than coordinator most days.

nice food list, we eat many frozen burritos here, too- except for me, can't stand them. We also do a lot of tortellini with goat cheese and olive oil- real easy.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to how busy life can get. Mealtimes can really turn into a circus. Some excellent suggestions here.

We've had good luck with Recipe Rocket service. They send me a menu and grocery list every week. Hope it's ok to say the link! Another good site is I see it listed in your links.

Thanks for the help!